Mark Driscoll, the Trinity, and W. G. T. Shedd

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sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
I've posted a new article at The Ruling Elder which examines some of the theology of Mark Driscoll, specifically in light of the recent Elephant Room interview of TD Jakes. I encourage you to have a read: The Ruling Elder: Mark Driscoll, the Trinity, and W. G. T. Shedd

I'm not intending to start another thread about The Elephant Room, but instead, to focus on Driscoll's theology regarding the Trinity, which I believe is the root of his inability to counter what Jakes said during that interview.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Yes, I thank you very much. I am in the middle of of this in that we have a niece that attends a church that in their belief statement uses manifestations to describe God. What bugs me to no end is that the broad view of most Christians I know just shrug their shoulders and look at me as a kook. I hope someone who Driscoll admires (calling John Piper) puts his feet to the fire because we are speaking of shepherds guarding the flock from wolves.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Great job, Seth.

I have the same feeling about Baptists who wish to avoid using the word 'sacrament' in reference to the Lord's Supper.
 

sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
Yes, I thank you very much. I am in the middle of of this in that we have a niece that attends a church that in their belief statement uses manifestations to describe God. What bugs me to no end is that the broad view of most Christians I know just shrug their shoulders and look at me as a kook. I hope someone who Driscoll admires (calling John Piper) puts his feet to the fire because we are speaking of shepherds guarding the flock from wolves.

Earl, I know the feeling of being considered a 'kook' for defending the whole Truth. The broad view of most Christians is destructive to the Church, and if anyone doubts it, just look at the Elephant Room. According to some leading evangelicals, we are now supposed to except that TD Jakes is orthodox in his view of the Trinity. That is such a dangerous view! Getting the Trinity wrong is not a small thing. It is one of the doctrines that if you get it wrong, you go to hell.

Seems to me that we ought to be very concerned with "the details" of something so important.

Also, I'll be praying for your daughter.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Good post, Seth!

Chalcedon implicitly identified the heresies of the time that still plague the church today.

One can best understand the hypostatic union (together united in one subsistence and in one single person) by examining what it is not.

It is not:

1. a denial that Christ was truly God (Ebionites, Elkasites, Arians);
2. a dissimilar or different substance (anomoios) with the Father (semi-Arianism);
3. a denial that Christ had a genuine human soul (Apollinarians);
4. a denial of a distinct person in the Trinity (Dynamic Monarchianism);
5. God acting merely in the forms of the Son and Spirit (Modalistic Monarchianism/Sabellianism/United Pentecostal Church);
6. a mixture or change when the two natures were united (Eutychianism/Monophysitism);
7. two distinct persons (Nestorianism);
8. a denial of the true humanity of Christ (docetism);
9. a view that God the Son laid aside all or some of His divine attributes (kenoticism);
10. a view that there was a communication of the attributes between the divine and human natures (Lutheranism, with respect to the Lord's Supper); and
11. a view that Jesus existed independently as a human before God entered His body (Adoptionism).

AMR
 
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Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
Good post, Seth!

Chalcedon implicitly identified the heresies of the time that still plague the church today. One can best understand the hypostatic union (together united in one subsistence and in one single person) by examining what it is not.

It is not:

1. a denial that Christ was truly God (Ebionites, Elkasites, Arians);
2. a dissimilar or different substance (anomoios) with the Father (semi-Arianism);
3. a denial that Christ had a genuine human soul (Apollinarians);
4. a denial of a distinct person in the Trinity (Dynamic Monarchianism);
5. God acting merely in the forms of the Son and Spirit (Modalistic Monarchianism/Sabellianism/United Pentecostal Church);
6. a mixture or change when the two natures were united (Eutychianism/Monophysitism);
7. two distinct persons (Nestorianism);
8. a denial of the true humanity of Christ (docetism);
9. a view that God the Son laid aside all or some of His divine attributes (kenoticism);
10. a view that there was a communication of the attributes between the divine and human natures (Lutheranism, with respect to the Lord's Supper); and
11. a view that Jesus existed independently as a human before God entered His body (Adoptionism).

AMR

My question is that if those things are so prevalent in modern Christianity how far do they go in terms of salvation? Most, if not all, of us here would say denying the Trinity is a damnable heresy.
 

earl40

Puritan Board Professor
Good post, Seth!

Chalcedon implicitly identified the heresies of the time that still plague the church today. One can best understand the hypostatic union (together united in one subsistence and in one single person) by examining what it is not.

It is not:

1. a denial that Christ was truly God (Ebionites, Elkasites, Arians);
2. a dissimilar or different substance (anomoios) with the Father (semi-Arianism);
3. a denial that Christ had a genuine human soul (Apollinarians);
4. a denial of a distinct person in the Trinity (Dynamic Monarchianism);
5. God acting merely in the forms of the Son and Spirit (Modalistic Monarchianism/Sabellianism/United Pentecostal Church);
6. a mixture or change when the two natures were united (Eutychianism/Monophysitism);
7. two distinct persons (Nestorianism);
8. a denial of the true humanity of Christ (docetism);
9. a view that God the Son laid aside all or some of His divine attributes (kenoticism);
10. a view that there was a communication of the attributes between the divine and human natures (Lutheranism, with respect to the Lord's Supper); and
11. a view that Jesus existed independently as a human before God entered His body (Adoptionism).

AMR

My question is that if those things are so prevalent in modern Christianity how far do they go in terms of salvation? Most, if not all, of us here would say denying the Trinity is a damnable heresy.

I think an active denial may be key here. What I have found is that most if not all Christians will correct a incorrect view when confronted. With TD Jakes I believe he is buckling under pressure to say what we (Christians) want to hear. I hope I am wrong but I doubt it.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Seth, that was really, really good! I copied your entire post in an email to my children, several of whom have been asking why I am looking at Presbyterian and Lutheran churches in Fort Wayne (actually, not much choice for Reformational Christianity with one tiny Reformed church with members who average a one hour drive to church and 32 confessional Lutheran congregations).

The broad evangelicalism that gave birth to my college (Westmont) and seminary (the one in Pasadena that must not be mentioned) accepted such minimalistic definitions of "key" doctrines that we are left with the sadly (but penetratingly) true conclusion to your piece:

This is the problem facing modern American evangelicalism: a conscious decision on the part of our leaders to reject historical theology results in leaders of the church who are unable to defend her from false teaching and uneducated Christians in the pews who see nothing wrong with such false teaching. Blind leaders of the blind seems to be the motto of American Evangelicalism.

Well said, young man. Well said. [sigh]

Can you imagine how depressing it is to look back on my nearly 60 years of experience and leadership in "broad evangelicalism" and realize that it was all a massive cul de sac?
 
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sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
Thank you all for your kind words. I am very humbled by them, especially because of the high opinion I have of so many of you here on the Puritan Board.

I've submitted the piece to The Aquila Report, and will post a link if they run it tomorrow.
 

DMcFadden

Puritanboard Commissioner
Seth,

Broad evangelicalism reduced the faith to a minimalistic five doctrines. In fact, not to put too fine a point on it, your grad school helped to establish that reductionistic basis of faith.

Today, contemporary evangelicals have put even that emaciated corpse on an anorexic's diet. Now we are left with:
* There is a God
* Jesus is divine
* The Bible is true
* Jesus died for me
* Jesus is coming back

I submit that "Bishop" Jakes can certainly affirm that list. So can the Mormons, emergents, and much of mainline denominationalism (depending on how hard you press the word "affirm"). The rejection of historical theology reminds me of the old saw that those who reject history are doomed to repeat it.
 

Backwoods Presbyterian

Puritanboard Amanuensis
Dennis reminds me of a current discussion I am having on facebook with a guy that I went to seminary with over the abysmal Confession of 1967. He keeps trying to claim it is "Reformed" and "orthodox". As I noted to him when words like "Reformed" are removed from their historical context they can mean anything you want them to. Though I have to laugh he is now at the point of saying things like "there is more to being reformed than what 16th century white European men say there is" you are reminded why you left that kind of nonsense behind.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
I've posted a new article at The Ruling Elder which examines some of the theology of Mark Driscoll, specifically in light of the recent Elephant Room interview of TD Jakes. I encourage you to have a read: The Ruling Elder: Mark Driscoll, the Trinity, and W. G. T. Shedd

I'm not intending to start another thread about The Elephant Room, but instead, to focus on Driscoll's theology regarding the Trinity, which I believe is the root of his inability to counter what Jakes said during that interview.

Amazing post Seth! I was saying amen every sentence. I am becoming more convinced everyday that whatever evangelicalism is it is not worth dealing with. I respect people like Carl Henery and his vision but it was probably doomed to begin with. I am not interested in giving up my confessional Reformed faith for whatever evangelicals have to offer.
 

rookie

Puritan Board Sophomore
Good post, Seth!

Chalcedon implicitly identified the heresies of the time that still plague the church today. One can best understand the hypostatic union (together united in one subsistence and in one single person) by examining what it is not.

It is not:

1. a denial that Christ was truly God (Ebionites, Elkasites, Arians);
2. a dissimilar or different substance (anomoios) with the Father (semi-Arianism);
3. a denial that Christ had a genuine human soul (Apollinarians);
4. a denial of a distinct person in the Trinity (Dynamic Monarchianism);
5. God acting merely in the forms of the Son and Spirit (Modalistic Monarchianism/Sabellianism/United Pentecostal Church);
6. a mixture or change when the two natures were united (Eutychianism/Monophysitism);
7. two distinct persons (Nestorianism);
8. a denial of the true humanity of Christ (docetism);
9. a view that God the Son laid aside all or some of His divine attributes (kenoticism);
10. a view that there was a communication of the attributes between the divine and human natures (Lutheranism, with respect to the Lord's Supper); and
11. a view that Jesus existed independently as a human before God entered His body (Adoptionism).

AMR

My question is that if those things are so prevalent in modern Christianity how far do they go in terms of salvation? Most, if not all, of us here would say denying the Trinity is a damnable heresy.

I think an active denial may be key here. What I have found is that most if not all Christians will correct a incorrect view when confronted. With TD Jakes I believe he is buckling under pressure to say what we (Christians) want to hear. I hope I am wrong but I doubt it.

I once heard TD Jakes in an interview once, that Jesus was a great business to be in....for money....
My team lead at work is a huge fan of TD Jakes, but the problem is as mentioned above, no one is dogmatic about doctrinal truths anymore. New age has slipped into the "church" (talking about the buildings here) and now everyone's truth about God is good to go....
 

Kevin

Puritan Board Doctor
Well stated.

The trinity is the point of greatest assault on orthodoxy in our day. in my opinion

And the most overlooked.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Unfortunately, the Trinitarian God is just not explicitly preached that often from the pulpit of the church militant. Could it stem from mist in the pulpit on solid knowledge of the doctrine? I just don't know. I fear that the mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity has become an excuse to avoid digging deeper.

AMR
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
Unfortunately, the Trinitarian God is just not explicitly preached that often from the pulpit of the church militant. Could it stem from mist in the pulpit on solid knowledge of the doctrine? I just don't know. I fear that the mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity has become an excuse to avoid digging deeper.

AMR

This is a problem, I think, with a lack of lectio continua preaching in our day, especially in the epistles. You can't preach through those and escape the robust Trinitarian doctrine. Consider a passage like Ephesians 1:3-14 for instance. I am currently preaching through Romans 8, and even though Paul has a lot to say about the Holy Spirit in the chapter, it is amazing how seamlessly he weaves Trinitarian doctrine into the inspired text (e.g., vv. 9-11, where he moves from "Spirit" to "Spirit of God" to "Spirit of Christ" and then back to "Spirit" again). I'm not sure topical preaching (especially on subjects like sexuality) is going to address passages like that.
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
I fear that the mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity has become an excuse to avoid digging deeper.

I think Dennis nailed it, earlier: The Trinity is not one of the Five Fundamentals, and so it isn't taught.

We do make a point in our services to frequently select hymns setting forth the doctrine of the Trinity. I suppose we could/should look for more legitimate opportunities to bring it out in the regular expositions of passages in preaching through books of the bible.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
Well stated.
The trinity is the point of greatest assault on orthodoxy in our day. in my opinion

And the most overlooked.

Certainly one of the greatest points of controversy. It is alarming to me that Kline was not interrogated fully, and that Smith seems to have been little challenged.

Unfortunately, the Trinitarian God is just not explicitly preached that often from the pulpit of the church militant. Could it stem from mist in the pulpit on solid knowledge of the doctrine? I just don't know. I fear that the mystery of the doctrine of the Trinity has become an excuse to avoid digging deeper.
AMR

I wonder if a contributing cause to vagueness isn’t that there is little grasp that we really do relate to the Triune God, and that it is beneficial for the Trinity of God to be a conscious and controlling element in our spirituality. No doubt it factors in that mistakes are easy to make (although some histories of the doctrine, e.g., Letham’s, overemphasize this by accusing practically everyone of tending towards one or another error) and so people are hesitant to become involved in technicalities. But it seems like our knowledge of God, our interaction with him, so to speak, can never be more than superficial if it is not explicitly Trinitarian. That is a genuinely Christian religious life, as opposed to a merely general religious life.

This is a problem, I think, with a lack of lectio continua preaching in our day, especially in the epistles. You can't preach through those and escape the robust Trinitarian doctrine. Consider a passage like Ephesians 1:3-14 for instance. I am currently preaching through Romans 8, and even though Paul has a lot to say about the Holy Spirit in the chapter, it is amazing how seamlessly he weaves Trinitarian doctrine into the inspired text (e.g., vv. 9-11, where he moves from "Spirit" to "Spirit of God" to "Spirit of Christ" and then back to "Spirit" again). I'm not sure topical preaching (especially on subjects like sexuality) is going to address passages like that.

That’s true – but even with lectio continua it seems possible for people to speak on paragraphs while skipping over many implications and ignoring structural elements. The doctrine of the Trinity runs through the whole NT like a basso continuo that is often overlooked precisely because there is a melody – but the melody acquires its depth and resonance because of this harmonic element – indeed, the melody flows out from that harmonic structure. Unless the preacher is persuaded that it is important to show people how the basso continuo interacts with and supports and affects the melody, even continuous expository preaching will address the doctrine of the Trinity only occasionally – in Matthew 28 and 2 Corinthians 13. And that doesn’t seem like enough. It’s analogous, perhaps, to people who can preach on the content of the OT without seeming to apprehend its prospective announcement of Christ.

We do make a point in our services to frequently select hymns setting forth the doctrine of the Trinity. I suppose we could/should look for more legitimate opportunities to bring it out in the regular expositions of passages in preaching through books of the bible.

I think that would do much to foster love to God, because the doctrine of the Trinity truly does set a lovable God before the sinner.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
Unfortunately, the Trinitarian God is just not explicitly preached that often from the pulpit of the church militant. Could it stem from mist in the pulpit on solid knowledge of the doctrine? I just don't know.


This is a problem, I think, with a lack of lectio continua preaching in our day, especially in the epistles.

I think this addresses part of the problem. Another problem is that the doctrine of the Trinity is just really hard to teach. Partly because there is so much mystery, but mostly because most church-goers in America have no grounding in the basic terminology of Christianity. It requires a great deal of grunt work by preachers and teachers to overcome generations of 'preaching down' to the congregation.


The doctrine of the Trinity runs through the whole NT like a basso continuo...

Classic.
 

py3ak

They're stalling and plotting against me
Staff member
I would rather say leitmotif, but it sounds right to me.
 
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Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
That’s true – but even with lectio continua it seems possible for people to speak on paragraphs while skipping over many implications and ignoring structural elements. The doctrine of the Trinity runs through the whole NT like a basso continuo that is often overlooked precisely because there is a melody – but the melody acquires its depth and resonance because of this harmonic element – indeed, the melody flows out from that harmonic structure. Unless the preacher is persuaded that it is important to show people how the basso continuo interacts with and supports and affects the melody, even continuous expository preaching will address the doctrine of the Trinity only occasionally – in Matthew 28 and 2 Corinthians 13. And that doesn’t seem like enough. It’s analogous, perhaps, to people who can preach on the content of the OT without seeming to apprehend its prospective announcement of Christ.

Granted, and well said.


I think this addresses part of the problem. Another problem is that the doctrine of the Trinity is just really hard to teach.

Granted as well. Reminds me of something James White said on his podcast a week or so ago. He used to attend a very large (15,000 attendees or so) SBC church, where he taught Sunday school. The church used the Baptist quarterly material, and that particular quarter was on the book of Romans. That's right, the whole book of Romans in a mere 12 or 13 weeks. But it gets worse: the material combined chapters 8-11 into one lesson. White saw this in advance, and changed the lesson that week (and perhaps the following weeks as well) to concentrate on the material in more detail. The Christian Ed minister at the church heard what happened and called him into his office. He gently chastised him and told him that at this particular church they didn't go into deep doctrine. "Teach every class like it's a person's first time in a church ever" was the advice he was given.
 
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